Friday, July 8, 2011
Tough Mudder Beaver Creek
Tough Mudder Beaver Creek report in approximately 15 words, sorta:
Kickintheballs. Freakinghot. RidonkulousAltitude of 8-10,000'. Qualified for World Championships in Jersey!
On June 26th, I joined 8,000 other racers at Beaver Creek Ski Resort in Avon, Coloardo for the TOUGH MUDDER. I managed to cover the 10 mile obstacle course in around 1hr45. With 25 obstacles to swim or climb under through or over, elevation ranging from 8,000 to 10,000 feet, hypothermia-inducing ice water pond swims (UNDER floating obstacles) and a fun Log-carry halfway through, this was no ordinary Tough Mudder. If the altitude or 40 degree water didn't take your breath away, trying to "race" the course would certainly.
The father of these races, the Tough Guy in England, has been on my list for years. Only in the last 12 months has this style of event really exploded in the USA. By 2012, the Tough Mudder series alone will have increased to over 40 global events. The growth of the series is amazing, and makes one wonder about the wide of doing something not just "crazy", but "maybe impossible". These are my people!
Massive hoot n' hollering waves of 500 very naughty monkeys went off every 20 minutes, sprinting down a ski run at Beaver Creek in a scene out of Braveheart, with fantastic LOUD support from live bands playing right next to the start/finish at the bottom of the ski slopes. I was in one of the middle waves, passing hundreds if not thousands before I finished, but stopping and helping folks through obstacles along the way in the spirit of the event. This would be the funnest "racing" experience I have had in a very long time.
Most people were dressed in costume, racing with a team of friends and/or just having a good time experiencing the insanity of the course with it's two-pronged challenge of running/hiking up and down the high-altitude steep black diamond ski runs that connected the dozens of obstacles. For the shorter or less fit individuals, many obstacles would be impossible with or without help from other participants.
The top 5% of finishers in Tough Mudder events are privately invited two weeks after finishing to race in the 24 hour World's Toughest Mudder event this December in New Jersey. (Yes, December in Jersey...remember the "Tough" part?) I received the email that my time was in the top 1-5% out of the 8,000 participants and good enough for an invitation to World Championships, and accepted.
Although it may be the most miserable 24 hours of my life (that's saying a lot...) I look forward to taking on the challenge of 24 hours of nonstop 10 mile obstacle laps in freezing rain and/or snow this December. I'm up for a challenge, and my combination of adventure racing, CrossFit, ultra-distance endurance fueling & military experience in far longer events, in extreme conditions suits me well for success, whatever that may be.
Hopefully I will fly under the radar and quietly move through the course steadily for 24hrs. A muddy ninja! I am positive better athletes will be on the starting line, but with an expected attrition rate of over 90% the nature of the event plays to my experience, strengths and ability to suffer.
I would wager that MORE than 90% will drop out due to hypothermia, insufficient gear/food preparation, the realization that this level of pain and misery "just isn't worth it" or injury. Everyone racing will battle these demons on the course for 24 nonstop hours; that is one thing we can all bet on. Just like an adventure race...